Well, I did it, friends. I made a lasagna in the crockpot! You may be thinking, ‘hmph, I do that all of the time!’ but this was totally new to me! I have this incorrect notion that my crockpot is strictly for soups, stews, roasts, etc., so the idea of creating an ‘oven’ meal in it was a big deal for me. I am happy to report that it went perfectly! It was way easier than the oven, and in the summer months, it’s extra great, because you’re not heating your house up!
So here it goes… (oh, and I noticed as I was mentally recapping my ingredients that every single thing was from Trader Joe’s, and it was perfecto!)
**Update** Find my notes regarding a vegetarian variation below this recipe!
*6-8 oven-ready lasagna noodles
*1 lb. ground turkey
*1/2 red onion
*4 garlic cloves
*15 oz. ricotta cheese
*1 zucchini squash
I had left over TJ’s marinara sauce in the freezer, so I thawed it out overnight in the refrigerator. (I usually take a jar of marinara and a big can of crushed or pureed tomatoes and mix them for my sauce.)
In a skillet prepped with a drizzle of evoo, I sauteed 1 lb. of ground turkey and seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper. Once it was nearly cooked through, I added a half of a red onion (diced), a hand-full of fresh, chopped basil, about 1/4 c. of fresh, chopped kale, and 2 cloves of minced garlic.
Once that simmered for a few minutes, I added all but about a half cup of the sauce and mixed it together well.
The 1/2 c. of sauce that I reserved went into the crockpot first, and I covered the bottom evenly.
Next, I prepped all of my ingredients for layering.
In a small bowl, I combined a small tub of ricotta cheese (15 oz.), 2 more minced garlic cloves, and about 1/4 c. of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Next, I peeled and thinly sliced a zucchini and cut all of the slices in half, so that each was about 3 in. long.
Then, I sliced a a ball of fresh mozzarella into thin slices (i think it was around 8 oz. whatever the baseball-sized ball is??)
Finally, you are ready to layer!
On top of the sauce, my layers went like this:
*TJ’s ‘oven ready / no boil’ pasta (cracked in half, using 4 halves per layer)
*zucchini slices, filling in any gaps left by the noodles
*meat sauce (I wanted to put the sauce and zucchini right on the noodles, because both are full of moisture, and those oven-ready noodles really suck up the moisture in the dish if you aren’t prepared for them to do so.)
*pasta, zucchini, meat sauce, cheeses, repeat…
Finish off the dish with any remaining mozzarella and a fresh layer of parmesan. I rinsed my crockpot lid off, prior to putting it on, in order to really add some extra moisture. I think all of the steam helped, b/c not a single noodle was dried out.
Let it cook on low for 4 hrs. (or on high for 2 hrs.) Easy and delicious. I will definitely be making lasagna this way from now on. My house stayed cool, the aroma filled the kitchen, and it turned out perfectly.
Try it, and let me know if you like it as much as we did!
I recently made a meatless version with half the ricotta, and it was also delicious! Instead of kale, I used frozen spinach (just enough to sprinkle two light, even layers), and I also added thinly sliced portobello mushrooms (6 mushrooms / 3 per layer). For the ricotta portion, I used half of the 15 oz. tub, 1 egg yolk, 1 large clove of garlic, 2 tbsp. Italian seasoning, and a pinch of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. In place of the fresh mozzarella, I used layers of Trader Joe’s shredded Quattro Formagio and sliced provolone.